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04/27/07

Permalink 02:49:10 pm, Categories: For translation buyers, Spanish language & translation, 160 words  

Spanish and US Hispanics

Another proof of the importance of the Spanish language for US Hispanics. Not that it is surprising, but just to strike a balance with other recent reports which suggest a rapid assimilation of US Hispanics into American culture and language...

Via Hispanic Trending:

Report: Spanish-language websites in demand

By Chris Reidy
April 26, 2007

A report from Forrester Research Inc. says 51 percent of US Hispanics who use the Internet prefer Spanish-language websites, and 23 percent must have Spanish online.

Forrester, a Cambridge technology and market research company, did a telephone survey of 3,000 US Hispanics earlier this year.

‘‘English-language sites are currently underserving 7.1 million online Hispanics,’’ said a Forrester data researcher, Tamara Barber. ‘‘If companies are serious about reaching this growing audience, they need to offer Spanish-language sites.

‘‘Not only does Spanish online help those who depend on Spanish for interactions, but it also builds brand value with consumers who can transact in English but prefer to be served in Spanish.’’

Source: Boston Globe

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03/27/07

Permalink 10:29:35 am, Categories: For translation buyers, Spanish language & translation, 1147 words  

7 ways to have your message translated

1) Automatic (computer-generated) translation

Virtually every one of us has wondered at least once if computer-generated translation could be the ideal solution to our translation needs. After all, computers get more and more powerful and intelligent every day, so they must have figured this out by now, right? Well, actually, no. Language is intrinsically related to the human conscience and the human mind, with all its richness and complexity, nuances, double meanings, ambiguities... And computers have a long way to go before figuring all of this out. Of course, there is a certain measure of relativity in this. Granted, a computer will probably never be able to translate marketing or literature materials not even faintly close to adequately. However, for highly technical, very repetitive texts, the story would be somewhat different. But more on this later.

2) Translating in-house

Okay, so now that we established that computers will not address our translation needs adequately, we know that we need a real person to translate our materials. But wait a minute! My bilingual assistant is proficient in English and Spanish! She can translate for us, right?

Well, stop to think for a minute. Would you, for example, entrust your bilingual assistant with writing your company’s technical handbooks, even if he or she is proficient in English? Probably not. You would rather look for somebody who is a skilled technical writer. Similarly, unless your bilingual assistant happens to be a highly skilled linguist with specific training in translation, and a native speaker of your target language, you will do no favor to your company — or to your assistant for that matter — if you expect him or her to accomplish a task that he or she is not qualified to perform, such as professional translation.

3) The cheapest translation company we can find

I am starting to get upset with all of this. After all, translation should not be so complicated! Why, it is just taking English words and converting them into Spanish, French or German, nothing out of this world, right? We will just ask four different translation companies for translation quotes and go with the lowest offer. That should do just fine…

However interesting this option may sound, there is a high risk associated with it. Remember that your image, your message, and ultimately your bottom line are at stake here. A poor translation, even though it will cost less initially, can be the most expensive option. Think lost clients for lack of credibility, complaints or constant queries from your customers because they do not understand your target-language materials, or even worse, being sued by them because they got your message wrong and did something that caused them an injury or financial losses…

When you seriously look for quality, it is more likely that you will find it. If you are only looking for a low price, you are probably heading for disaster!

4) A top-notch freelance translator

In this case, we will do something else… We will just go without middle-men. Let’s do a search for a freelance translator, let’s choose the very best one, and we will save on commissions charged by translation companies.

Well, this can indeed be an interesting option if handled carefully and under some conditions. Freelance translators will often provide you with translation work only. Some of them will be able to provide desktop publishing services or translations in complex formats, others not. Depending on what you need (and if you only need translations into a couple of languages, which will be reasonably easy to handle by yourself), this can indeed be a good option, provided that the translator is really top-notch. High-quality translation providers pick their translators carefully, saving you a trial and error process that can require a great deal of time and resources. If you need reliable freelance translators for your projects, you will find a very good list of them here: www.squidoo.com/translationservices.

5) A reputed translation company
Hhhmmm… I think we should go with the safest option. Let’s just take one of the world’s leading translation companies. They will be able to address all of our needs, manage our multilingual projects effectively with little or no hassle for us, and they probably have highly qualified translators that they have selected carefully. It might be more expensive, but safer.

Great choice! And here I am to point you in the right direction: SDL International (www.sdl.com) is one of the most reputed translation companies out there, well known for their high standards and responsiveness. A very safe option indeed.

6) A freelance translation network
More and more professional translators, faced with the ever-decreasing rates offered by many translation agencies, are teaming up to provide their services without intermediaries, which allows them to offer very affordable rates to the end clients (saving on administrative costs incurred by translation agencies) while earning a fair compensation for themselves. Many of these translation networks are very reliable and offer high-quality services through cooperation among their members, who are professional and skilled translators. Very often they can offer a range of services that is comparable to what translation agencies offer. www.betranslated.com is one of these freelance translation services networks, and it offers support for the most common world languages. Other networks specialize on a language or a couple of languages, such as JB Translations Spanish translation network.

7) Controlled language + automatic translation + human post-editing
What if you have tons of highly technical and repetitive texts? Isn’t there a way to cut costs in this case? There indeed is, and this is where computers come in to the rescue. If you would care to invest the necessary resources to train your staff in learning how to write in controlled English, you will actually be able to obtain the savings you are looking for. Controlled language in general consists of a set of rules entailing simplification and standardization of grammar and vocabulary, which help computers understand and translate the resulting texts more adequately. A system powered by machine translation and enhanced by a translation memory created specifically for your materials is used, and the output is then post-edited by professional translators who are trained for this kind of task, thus automating a good deal of the translation process and saving costs. You will find more information about this on this translation article: www.uem.es/web/ott/ingles/controlados.html. Companies such as SDL International can help you throughout this process, from training your staff in controlled languages to creating your translation memory to post-editing the machine-translated output.

Whatever the option you end up choosing for your translations, hopefully this post will have been a useful resource to help you find the solution that fits your needs best, and especially to help you reach your target audience with a clear and polished message that conveys the right image about your company.

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03/21/07

English-Spanish translation pitfalls #2

English and Spanish are different. Hardly a surprise, right? But they are different in many ways that sometimes can go unnoticed, especially if you are so focused on the original English text that you fail to step back and think: wait, this is not how I would express myself in Spanish if I wasn't translating...

One of these important differences is in the use of personal pronouns. While in English we use them very often, this is not the case in Spanish. There is a reason for this. Let's take a look at conjugation for a common verb, like "say" ("decir" in Spanish):

I say
You say
He/she says
We say
You say
They say

Yo digo
Tú dices
Él/ella/usted dice
Nosotros decimos
Vosotros decís
Ellos/ellas/ustedes dicen

It becomes clear that personal pronouns are essential in English in order to specify which person is "saying" something or performing any other action. However, in Spanish we can easily stick to:

Digo
Dices
Dice
Decimos
Decís
Dicen

Since all of these verb forms are different in writing and pronunciation, we really do not need the pronouns to specify the person performing the action. Every verb form already provides this information.

This is why in Spanish we rarely use personal pronouns in a text or in oral speech. We do use them for emphasis, or when the context may lead to confusion if we didn't use a personal pronoun. However, most of the time, the verb form alone is enough (and more than this is considered poor, unnatural style.)

English example: I think they noticed that we didn't attend.
Personal pronouns: 3
Spanish translation: Creo que se dieron cuenta de que no asistimos.
Personal pronouns: 0!

The alternative translation with all personal pronouns "Yo creo que ellos se dieron cuenta de que nosotros no asistimos", even though grammatically correct, is really a pain to read or hear, and is anything but natural in Spanish...

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03/16/07

English-Spanish translation pitfalls #1

The English words "eligible" and "eligibility" are often translated as "elegible" and "elegibilidad" in Spanish. In my opinion, these are unnecessary and rather ugly calques. These words do exist in Spanish, but they mostly refer to people who can legally be elected (and are thus eligible) for political positions. But it is admittedly not always easy to translate these words into Spanish without using those calques. Depending on the context, these would be some of my suggested options:

Somebody that is "eligible":

- Cumple los requisitos para
- Reúne las condiciones para
- Está cualificado / calificado para
- Tiene derecho a
- Puede optar a
- Puede acceder a
- Es candidato a
- Corresponde a los criterios de selección
- Se ajusta al perfil
- Es idóneo para
- Es apto para

And eligibility may be translated as:

- Derecho a
- Idoneidad para
- Aptitud para
- Cualificación / calificación para

There are probably other "eligible" options, but the ones included here should already help in many contexts. The idea is asking yourself how you would say what the English text is conveying if you were writing in Spanish from scratch rather than translating from English...

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03/15/07

New blog section

Today I posted a comment about some differences between English and Spanish on another translation blog, and it gave me an idea for a new section here. The new section will be called "English-Spanish translation pitfalls" and it will point out key differences between these two languages that any English-Spanish translator should know in order to produce high-quality, smooth and polished translations. I won't promise it will be a weekly section. Some weeks I may write several such posts, some weeks maybe none. But I will try and keep this section alive and keep those posts coming!

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